The Holiday Flavors of Rioja: Spanish Spiced Turkey

Turkey Final

The Holiday Flavors of Rioja: Spanish Spiced Turkey
The holiday season is in full swing. Before you know it your kitchen will be pumping out glorious platters of food and your dining room will be bustling with friends and family from near and far. But let’s not forget the drinks!
To pair with your favorite holiday fare, consider Rioja wines. Hailing from North-Central Spain, Rioja refers to the wine as well as the region it comes from. Made mainly from the Tempranillo grape, Rioja wines are one of only two D.O.C regions in Spain and all Rioja wines are always regulated so you can be sure you are buying a quality bottle every time. Why Rioja wine when there is Burgundy’s Pinot Noir or Piedmont’s Barbaresco? It’s simple. Rioja wines are versatile and affordable. You don’t have to break the bank on wine for your holiday dinner and no need stress out about ten different bottles of wine to pair with each course. Choose from juicy rosado wines, crisp blancos, or elegant reds ranging from lighter to robust with spice.
Celebrate the holidays and take your usual turkey recipe and add some beautiful Spanish flair inspired by Cosecha and Crianza Rioja wines. Take your basic turkey and rub it with a blend of warm spices and smoked Spanish paprika. Then, stuff the bird with dried fruits soaked in an orange sauce and use the same sauce to baste the meat as it roasts.
Cosecha wines act as a beautiful starter glass to your dinners. Fresh, fruity, and not too heavy, they pair well with appetizers, white meats, and simple pastas without overweighing the palate with rich flavors. Rioja’s Crianza classification lets you know that each and every wine is at least three years old and has been aged in casks for a year or more.
Lighter Rioja red wines often have hints of smoke, only slight notes of oak aging, and plenty of ripe berry flavors. Dishes, like this turkey recipe, with orange zest and warm baking spices are natural pairings with these Rioja wines.
Check out the video below for holiday inspiration with Rioja wines.
Turkey Recipe:

1 Bird

4 quarts water

1 cup salt

1 cup sugar
Carrots & Onions for roasting
Fresh thyme
Orange Sauce
2 Cups OJ
1 sml yellow onion
4 cloves of garlic
Salt, to taste
Honey, totaste
4 cups stock
OJ Zest
Pine Nuts
Fennel seed
Cumin seed
Smoked Spanish Paprika
White Pepper
Mustard Seeds
Chili flakes
Cheese cloth
1. Bring to a boil the water, sugar and salt. Cool and then immerse turkey in the brining liquid for about an hour.
2. Toast pine nuts until golden on the stovetop.
3. In another pan, saute onions & garlic until soft and fragrant.
4. Add orange juice and stock and reduce by ⅓, stirring frequently.
5. Season with honey and salt according to your preference. Pour over the apricots and prunes and allow fruit to soak.
6. Strain fruit, reserving the liquid, and stir in the toasted pine nuts. Using cheesecloth and string, wrap and tie the prunes, apricots and pine nuts into a bundle.
7. Combine spices in a bowl.
8. Stuff bird, sitting in a roasting pan, with bundle and rub with spices. Arrange onions, carrots, and fresh thyme around the turkey.
9. Roast at 375F for about 2 hours, or until done, depending on the size of the bird.
10. Baste occasionally with the strained orange sauce while roasting.

11. When serving, remove the cheesecloth insert and arrange its contents around the turkey with the carrots and onions. Garnish with fresh thyme.

Thai carrot noodles

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If you enjoy Thai peanut noodles you will love this dish. The crazy part about it is it doesn’t have  noodles at all, but it’s substituted by carrots sliced really thin or by using a spiralizer. This is a super easy dish to make and enjoy. My kids loved it too. 
4 carrots, cut super thin or spiralizer
3-4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 tablespoon peanut butter 
1 tablespoon honey 
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce 
2 teaspoon sesame oil 
Zest of 1 lime 
Juice half a lime 
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger 
Sriracha sauce, optional for garnish 
1/2 cup crushed unsalted peanuts
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped 
In a medium bowl add soy, peanut butter, ginger, lime juice, lime zest, honey, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and garlic. Whisk everything together until well incorporated. 
In a large skillet on medium to high heat add remaining sesame oil and carrots. Sauté for about 1 minute,  now add the peanut butter sauce and toss everything together for another minute. Remove from heat and add cilantro, crushed peanuts and Sriracha. Toss and serve. 
Check out the other great dishes from this week’s Food Network Blog #fallfest below:

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Pizza

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We love to eat Brussels sprouts in our home pretty much any time of the year. I wasn’t a big fan as a child but I’m obsessed now or maybe it’s because I use bacon fat to cook my Brussels sprouts in. Whatever the case may be we love to eat it and why not combined that with another favorite… Pizza?  I decided to grill my pizza since it was a beautiful day. I grill year around if it’s nice out. I hope you enjoy as much as we did.


Brussels sprouts, chopped finely 

Salt & pepper, to taste 

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon onion powder 

12 pieces bacon, cut in pieces 

Olive oil, for brushing on to pizza dough

3 cups Italian fontina cheese, shredded 

Pizza dough, store bought is fine

Truffle oil, topping 

Pecorino Romano, shavings for garnish 


In a large skillet on medium to high heat add a couple slices of bacon. Cook until golden and crispy about 5 minted per side. Remove and place on paper towel to remove excess oil. Repeat process until all of the bacon is cooked (try not to eat any haha). Set aside 

Next add the Brussels into the skillet with the bacon drippings. Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder sauté for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Get grill nice and hot. Brush some olive oil on to the pizza. Place on the grill once it starts to bubble flip the pizza.  It should only take about 2-3 minutes per side. 

Once flipped add fountain cheese, remove after cheese has melted. Next top with Brussels and bacon. Garnish with pecorino and truffle oil. 

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Check out the other great dishes from this week’s Food Network Blog #fallfest below:

Feed Me Phoebe: Quinoa Brussels Sprout Gratin with Smoked Cheddar
Homemade Delish: Brussels Sprout and Bacon Pizza
Creative Culinary: Fried Brussels Sprouts with a Sriracha and Honey Glaze
Napa Farmhouse 1885:  Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Pesto Pizza
Red or Green: Spicy Roasted Brussels Sprouts Salad With Avocado & Pomegranate Seeds
Taste with the Eyes: Brussels, Bacon, Balsamic
TasteBook: Lemony Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
Healthy Eats: 6 Ways to Never Get Bored of Brussels Sprouts
The Mom 100: White Bean and Roasted Cauliflower Spread with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts
FN Dish: The Only 5 Brussels Sprouts Dishes You’ll Need This Season

S’Mores Cupcakes

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I love making cupcakes. There are so many types that can be created.  The sky is not the limit. I know my kids love smores, so I ran that idea through them about a smores cupcake. I know there are different types of smores cupcakes out there but I wanted mine to stand out. The bottom part of the cupcake is a graham crackers crust, then comes the chocolate cupcake, fillied with chocolate fudge and topped with marshmallow fluff. It came out perfectly and tasted even better. I made the chocolate cake from scratch but I used store bought fudge. Feel free to also use store bought cake if you don’t have time on your hands. 

I’m excited to partner up with OXO on this post to help raise money for Cookies for Kids’ Cancer.  OXO will be donating $100 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for each blog post dedicated to this campaign in October (up to $100,000 commitment*). What a great way to spread the word on such an amazing cause doing what I love to do most. 


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda 

3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup vegetable oil 

1/2 cup milk 

3/4 cup warm water 

2 large eggs, room temp and lightly beaten 

1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temp 

3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract 

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers 

1 cup fudge, more if desired for filling

2 cups marshmallow fluff 

Hershey bars, garnish topping 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Grease 12 cupcake tins or line with cupcake liners. Pour about 1 or 1 1/2 teaspoons per tin with crushed graham crackers. Set aside.

Sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir in warm water, milk, butter, eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir until smooth consistency. Fill each tin about halfway. 

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until toothpick comes out clean and dry. Let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Using my oxo Baker’s Silicone Decorating Bottle Kit I filled it with fudge. Inserting fudge into the middle of each cupcake. 

Next using my oxo cupcake Icing knife I spread the fluff on top. Using my little torch gun I roasted the marshmallow fluff until golden brown. Topped with a Hershey’s piece of chocolate.  Enjoy! 

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 Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a recognized 501c(3) public charity duly incorporated under the laws of the state of New Jersey. Your donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable by law. 100% of proceeds raised by Cookies for Kids’ Cancer fund pediatric cancer research.

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Oxo products used were: 

Non-Stick Pro 12 Cup Muffin Pan:

–        Cupcake Icing Knife:

–        4 Piece Baker’s Silicone Decorating Bottle Kit:

Note: I have not been compensated by OXO for this post.

Ca Va Brasserie


Headed to NYC and don’t know where to get dinner after the theater or concert? I have the place for you. Ça Va Brasserie located right in the heart of Manhattan its open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. The restaurant’s á la carte dinner menu serves traditional brasserie fare as well as playful, contemporary interpretations of the classics. The lunch menu, perfect for a quick bite or business lunch, includes choices such as Grilled Rainbow Trout Salad, or Roasted Lamb French Dip, as well as a special midday, three-course prix-fixe menu. Ça Va Brasserie offers breakfast favorites with a French twist. Sample freshly-baked pastries and breads accompanied by a gourmet coffee or a refreshing beverage from our juice bar.

The service was outstanding, and I had the pleasure of meeting the amazing chef behind all the delicious dishes. We started with picking some fabulous wine from the wine list. Next some appetizers jambon de bayonne and burrata salad, five onion soup. The chef also brought out a croquette which was outstanding. My friend has to eat gluten free and they were super accommodating to her needs, which I think is a super important option for restaurants to have now a days. 

Main course was fantastic.  My mouth is still watering thinking about it. We had a CaVa burger which is made from short ribs and brisket, filet mignon with potatoes and goat cheese and lastly a braised short rib with comte polenta and veggies. Finally the desserts a flourless chocolate cake, vanilla creme brûlée and coffee of course. By the end we were all so stuffed and satisfied beyond belief. 

I had the pleasure of taking the tour of the restaurant. Perfect place to have a business meeting or holiday party. Visit 

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The Elysee Hotel


New York is filled with beautiful hotels. Finding the perfect one can sometimes be difficult. I really feel that I hit the jackpot with The Elysee hotel. Upon arriving we were greeted by the doorman that took out car to valet. Upon entering the hotel it’s like you’re stepping back in time, but it’s a chic look. The staff at the front desk were probably the best staff I have ever dealt with at a hotel.  They were super friendly and very accommodating. Our room was actually ready early so there was no need to wait. When I tell you that this room was amazing I’m not joking. We even had a grand piano in our room. The cool thing with this room wasn’t just it’s amazing decor but they had a ton of books in the room to read by the fire place. The room was serene as well for a NYC hotel.  A lavish Continental breakfast including pastries, bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, cold and hot cereals, boiled eggs, yogurt, juices, freshly brewed coffee, tea, espresso and cappuccino served daily in the Club Room on the second floor. 

Cookies, fresh fruit, coffees and teas available throughout the day

Evening reception including Prosecco, fine wines, imported and domestic cheeses and hors d’oeuvres offered each evening from 5 to 8pm at the club room as well. 

The Hotel Elysée is located on East 54th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Among all hotels close to Central Park. It’s the perfect location to all that NYC has to offer. 

If you find yourself in NYC or are planning a trip to NYC during the holidays this is a must stay hotel. Visit 

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Cauliflower Au Gratin

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Creating different sides for a meal can be fun. You can be very creative with different vegetables and toppings. Luckily my kids love pretty much anything, so it makes my life easier when creating a side. Cauliflower was the vegetable of choice this week, and I wanted it to be creamy like a potato au gratin. This is a super easy side that you can add to any dinner or dinner party. For one of the toppings I had to use bacon, and you can never go wrong with bacon. Enjoy.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, or cheese of choice
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup crumbled cooked bacon, optional


Preheat oven 375 F degrees.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add cauliflower florets to water. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, remove and place in ice cold bowl of water (this will stop the cooking process). Set aside.

In another large bowl whisk together heavy cream, cheese, S&P and flour until well incorporated. Next drain cauliflower from cold water and place into the cream mixer. Toss everything together. Pour into baking dish. Top with Panko. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven, top with bacon and server.

Check out the other great dishes from this week’s Food Network Blog #fallfest below:

Feed Me Phoebe: Paleo Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Pumpkin Seed Scallion Pesto
The Heritage Cook: Easy Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Sriracha Butter (Gluten-Free)
Dishin & Dishes: Cauliflower Steaks with Curried Coconut Puree
Homemade Delish: Cauliflower Au Gratin
Healthy Eats: 6 Classic Comfort Foods with a Cauliflower Twist
Creative Culinary: Roasted Cauliflower with a Parmesan and Cheddar Cheese Frosting
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Six Recipes To Make You Fall In Love With Cauliflower
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower Patties
Taste with the Eyes: Grilled Eggplant Pizza with Low-Carb Cauliflower Crust
FN Dish: 6 Ways Cauliflower Can Stand In for Other Favorite Foods

The Hotel Elysee


I am so excited to head to Food Network and cooking channel New york city food and wine festival this weekend. I am actually going to be part of the event on October 18th for the bloody mary brunch which you can find the information here

Anyway Im excited to be staying at a fabulous hotel called the hotel elysee. Built in the 1920’s, the Hotel Elysée is named for one of the finest French Restaurants of that era. Once the playground for the rich and famous, Hotel Elysée has been home to movie stars, artists, writers and intellectuals. Luxurious yet intimate, the Hotel Elysée is located on East 54th Street between Park and Madison Avenues. Among all hotels close to Central Park, Hotel Elysée is an oasis of luxury, elegance and calm in bustling Midtown Manhattan.

  • A lavish Continental breakfast including pastries, bagels, muffins, fresh fruit, cold and hot cereals, boiled eggs, yogurt, juices, freshly brewed coffee, tea, espresso and cappuccino served daily in the Club Room on the second floor
  • The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Herald Tribune, USA Today and the New York Post are also available each morning
  • Cookies, fresh fruit, coffees and teas available throughout the day
  • Evening reception including Prosecco, fine wines, imported and domestic cheeses and hors d’oeuvres offered each evening from 5 to 8pm
  • Wireless High Speed Internet access throughout the hotel, with a computer for guest use in the Library on the second floor
  • Daily passes to the nearby New York Sports Club featuring a full range of cardio and strength-training equipment and aerobic, cycling and body-sculpting classes!
  • Complimentary library of books, and DVD’s to enjoy during your stay

So if your in New york city soon make sure to check them out or go to book your visit. 

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Warm Pumpkin Salad

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Pumpkins are a staple for fall decor and food. I love everything pumpkin.  I’m that person that will have everything pumpkin as soon as October hits. I love to incorporate it in my cooking. I’m lucky enough that my store carries per cut and peeled pieces.  I like to make warm salads during the cooler months.  I figured this would be the perfect one to share. I hope you enjoy.


1/2 cup pancetta, cubed
1 fennel bulb, sliced
2 whole Artichoke hearts, cut into wedges
2 lbs pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into desired pieces
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cups extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a baking dish add pumpkins and Artichoke hearts. Season salt, pepper and 1/4 cup olive oil. Place in the oven for 1 hour or until pumpkin is tender. Set aside.

In a medium skillet on medium heat add pancetta, cook until crispy. remove and place on paper towel to absorb any oils. In the same skillet add the fennel into pancetta oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside in large bowl. Add the pumpkin, artichokes and parsley. Toss together.

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup molasses
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced

In a medium bowl add apple cider begin to whisk in olive oil. Whisk consistently. Season salt and pepper. Add garlic, lemon juice and molasses. Keeping whisking for another 2 minutes. Pour over pumpkin and veggie mix. Toss everything together. Top with crispy pancetta. Place in serving dish and enjoy.

P.S. This is a perfect dish for thanksgiving.

Check out the other great dishes from this week’s Food Network Blog #fallfest below:

The Hungry Traveler: Pumpkin Brown Butter Madeleines
Bacon and Souffle: Pumpkin Lasagna with Sausage, Kale and Parmesan
Homemade Delish: Warm Pumpkin Salad
Creative Culinary: Pumpkin Butter
The Lemon Bowl: 20 Healthy Pumpkin Recipes
Weelicious: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts
Virtually Homemade: Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
TasteBook: Creamy Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Dishin & Dishes: Homemade Pumpkin Chai Tea Latte Concentrate
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes
Red or Green: Spiced Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Bars
The Heritage Cook: Roasted Pumpkin, Potato, and Sage (Gluten-Free)
Swing Eats: Pumpkin Panna Cotta with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Taste with the Eyes: Sultry Pumpkin Soup – Southwest Flavors, Dressed To Kill
FN Dish: 8 Ways to Eat Pumpkin All Day Long

Kerrygold Cheesy Gnocchi

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Weekdays can be pretty crazy with kids in school or with work schedules.  This is a simple dish for those hectic nights.  My kids love this dish.  They say it reminds them of Mac and cheese but with gnocchi. Traditionally people make this dish with peas and bacon. But I wanted to switch it up a bit.  Instead of using the peas I went ahead and chopped up some Brussel sprouts. I also used some delicious Kerrygold aged cheddar and Kerrygold blarney castle a mild Gouda. The combinations will make your head turn. Enjoy!

16oz gnocchi, frozen package
Salt & pepper, to taste
2/4 cups pancetta, diced
2 cups Brussel sprouts, thinly sliced
1 cup leeks, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kerrygold aged cheddar
1/2 cup kerrygold blarney castle Gouda
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
On medium heat in a large skillet add pancetta cook for about 3 minutes next add the leeks and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Now add the Brussel sprouts and thyme and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Next add the cheese cook until melted and add the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Follow instructions on gnocchi package stir well, cover and cook until the gnocchi is slightly tender, about 3-4 minutes or they start to rise to the top of the water. Remove from the heat. Add the gnocchi cheese leek and pancetta mix. Ross everything together until well incorporated. Serve.